Fresh from a busy project and with a lot more breathing space, June saw the Leeds Voices team have the chance to put more time into activities that we saw as being beneficial for us.
With the project ending in April, there was now more breathing space for us to focus on other areas of work that we’ve always been really keen to take part in.
Because of this we thought it would be great to head down to the June LGBT+ Coffee & Cake Café at Mill Hill Chapel to have a chat with people from the LGBT+ Community about the local health service and issues which personally affect them.
While we were there we had a great chat with Leeds City Council HR Officer Paul Leahy, who has made a lot of great changes in his workplace to make it more accessible for all demographics.
Equality and diversity has always been important for Paul, who previously worked as an LGBT+ counsellor for young people before its funding was sadly cut.
Demand for mental health services has only gotten stronger since then however, which brought up the issue of waiting times for patients who want to see specialists about their health.
Despite Paul’s work there are still many barriers faced by marginalised groups when it comes to health services, with the lack of effective communication about the current services also being a big issue.
Danielle Martin from People in Action also brought the issue of communication up. She regularly works with people who have a learning disability as part of her LGBT+ Group. However, even she has trouble getting access to services that her company provides, despite actually working for the company!
Communications about services are therefore in need of an upheaval, as it could make a huge difference for groups who already face barriers to health service.
There was still time for a more informal and light-hearted chat, with Leeds University lecturer and fiction writer Robert Adams speaking about the various books and art pieces he has produced as well as his experience of recently moving to Leeds from Scarborough and growing up in Glasgow.
Overall it was a very good night that we got a lot out of in multiple ways. Big thanks have to go to organiser Rob Wilson from Angels of Freedom, who works tirelessly to help advance the rights and freedoms of the LGBT+ Community in Leeds.